Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: Minor Objections

This was written a while back, lost, located, and posted for the b7friday take the plunge challenge (or not). 640 words, set pre-series.

Minor Objections

Avon shivered as the evaporation of water on his skin cooled him. He hugged himself and looked around at the others standing on the edge of the pool. It was curious that almost all the boys had their shoulders hunched so that their ribs showed and their sharp little shoulder bones protruded, but most of the girls looked more relaxed. Perhaps they didn't feel the cold as much. Or they didn't like looking like plucked chickens, which Avon was sure he did as well. He deliberately lowered his shoulders.

"All right, you lot!" shouted Wallis, the Phys. Ed. teacher. "One, two, THREE!"

And all down the line, children dived. Some of them made ungainly splashes like Avon had last time, but most entered the water hands and head first, the way they were meant to. Avon alone remained standing, his toes curled over the edge.

"Who's that boy?" yelled Wallis. "Avon Minor? What the hell are you doing?"

"Nothing," said Avon, who considered that self-evident. "Sir."

"Hurry up, hurry up, boy!"

Avon looked at his feet and at the water. He knew what he was meant to do: point himself at the water and fall while somehow getting his feet up into the air, but he had no idea how to do that. In fact he had never felt that his body was connected particularly well to his brain. All he had managed so far after what felt like hours of practice was either a belly-flop--it was amazing how hard water became when one hit it at any speed--or a simple jump at the last second.

"Well? What are you waiting for?"

"What's the point, sir?"

"What's the point? What's the point?" Wallis's face became red and, it seemed to Avon, slightly larger than it had been. "The point, Avon Minor, is that you will fail your diving certificate if you can't execute three dives."

That, thought Avon, was not a proper answer. So far he and the others had succeeded in swimming four lengths (Basic Swimming), swimming underwater and picking up coloured hoops (Retrieval), and now they were doing Diving. The whole endeavour seemed bizarre. Avon could see some purpose if Wallis was teaching survival after a flyer or spaceship crash into water, but where was the instruction on how to deal with hypothermia, or how to float as long as possible? Instead it seemed that one had to swim as fast as one could, which was ludicrously slower than a walking pace, or make a perfect dive when a feet-first jump would be as efficient at becoming immersed.


"Well what, sir?"

"Are you going to dive any time this year?"

Avon made up his mind. "No." Then added, because it was one of the school rules, "Sir." He noted with a certain amount of interest that there were veins (or were they arteries?) standing out on Wallis's neck. Physiological reaction to stress, he thought, savouring the expression which he had encountered in a biology class two days before.

"Ten points from Stalin House!"

Inter-house rivalry had never engaged Avon's interest. He shrugged slightly.

"And now DIVE!"

"No." Avon turned away.

"50 points from Stalin!"

Which was low compared to the number of points Avon had won for class work that term, though he had no doubt that sporting points would count for more with the other pupils. They always did; in fact those he gained in class almost seemed negative. He continued walking.


Avon stopped, then forced himself to keep going so that Wallis would not see the grin of sheer joy on his face. The idiot obviously considered that a punishment, but Avon would be able to fit another class into pool time. Computing, perhaps. Why not? It would be a lot more useful than water sports.

Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comments.

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